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SQUIRMING, SPIRITUAL SQUALOR AND THE INTEGRITY OF FAITH
Blessing, not Blight
Now let us frankly look at what might have been, in terms of what is.
In other words, Ahaz had an opportunity; he ditched it; and he was ditched.
We also, however, have an opportunity. Many ditch it. Some do not. That is the difference. If you like, in the Israel of Ahaz' day many also believed, as they do now, despite the king's idle perfidy and grossly disenchanting pretences. If some follow his line, others follow those who believed then, for they believe now. There have always been those who believe. God did not begin yesterday; God di not even begin. The people of God did not begin yesterday. They, however, did begin. They began near the beginning. Enoch for example was a godly descendant of Adam, and as to him, he was so godly, so open to grace, to aligned with goodness, so much taken up with God, that God took him up.
You see these things in Genesis 5:18-25. In Genesis 6 you find that there appears to have been a spirit of self-will, rather as now in our contemporary culture, and wishing, willing, taking, creating at will went on so that before long the very name of God was linked with licentiousness of heart, spirit and body. We read of the divine assessment the most withering grade mark you could desire:
· "Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" Genesis 6:5.
· Such was the graphic graphite, the sooty slum of mankind, speaking in general terms. The race was about at the place that it is now is, speaking sovereignly of changing this and that in the genome, of the NECESSITY for clone creation, using embryonic materials when the testimony of stem cells from other sources in man is already experimentally augmenting and impressive. SCIENCE must be impelled to it, said one of this category. Why ? Is it because knowledge MUST act as if it were a sacred passion, except not sacred, for the supernatural becomes for many the Harry Potter variety, at least in symbolic terms, what you can snatch and catch by secret knowledge, nothing to do with God.
· Some want it in matter, some in mind, some in 'powers' of various kinds, some in combinations; but it is all illusion. The case is crystal in clarity, merely dulled through a charity deficiency. Matter does its thing, and is not inventive at all; life does its program and is programmed for variation in kind. It is all old hat; it is older than Genesis. It started at the first. It continues to the end. Genesis is merely the inspired record. The inspiring result is this: that just as God's handbook declares, so it goes, and none of the recherché marvels of modern man have altered it in the least, either the text or the test result. That is simply, how it is!*5
· Just as now, the confused folly and contusion of thought continues, so it did then as it came to Noah's day, as recorded in Genesis 6. Just as now, there are few who believe, so was it then. Just as these entered into the physical ark of Noah (as in I Peter -22), so these today enter into the spiritual ark of Christ. Just as that vessel famously floated in the storm, so those who enter Christ 'escape' (cf. Hebrews ) from the flood of wickedness and its due recompence to come. Just as then it was water, soon it will be fire (II Peter 3 spells it out in detail, along the phase of Isaiah 51:6).
Soon ? What is even sooner is the return of Christ; for as wickedness swamps the earth, so does truth elevate the redeemed from their vessel of wood, to the land; and now, from the vessel of the resurrected Christ, to
The Everlasting Life in the Unchanging
Start here but don’t end:
this is the way it is, and was and will be
Yes ? You were awaiting, above, perhaps a word like 'eternity' ? It is true; but not
exhaustive, as Churchill reputedly said to a
Eternity does indeed come to the redeemed in the presence of God whenever they leave this earth. They are covered not in some esoteric and insalubrious myth of nature, forcing into its unwilling and indeed unwitting arms the care of souls, when it lacks one itself. No, it is with a Person that they are covered, the author of personality, the base of its power, the basis of its meaning and the height of its aspiration. You see this from the day of the thief of the cross, asking Christ to remember him WHEN He should come into His kingdom. When was the operative word. It was an event in mind; and the issue was simple: what would happen WHEN this came to be. The thief’s request: THEN, when this happens, remember ME! THIS DAY you will be with Me in paradise! was the reply. That was the answer to His request.
It is so from the days of Daniel (12:13), of David (Psalm 16, 21), the Psalmist (Psalm 145:1), true of body (Ps. 16) and soul (cf. Ecclesiastes 11:7, Proverbs 12:28, 11:4), and found in the prophet Isaiah 51:6,11, 26:19, as in Genesis (Genesis Mark 12;26, Exodus 3:6,15), in Hosea (13:14), and in Malachi (3:16-18). (Cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms - BAB - 17.) Life is given in clay-clad, as it were plasticised cover, and it has eternal yearnings, and everlasting burnings. The former are found in redemption; the latter in its repudiation.
What then of the life of man ?
It is lost, and it needs redemption. It is soaring because it comes from above. It is nose-diving because it is thrust to what is below. It cannot save itself because what is injured in the heart, cannot repair its own heart, and since the spirit of God is too pure to dwell in iniquity (Habakkuk -13). Accordingly, God has sent the Redeemer of purity that can be beheld, nothing withheld, a jewel of beauty and a cluster of perfection, Christ the Lord (Isaiah 48:16). He is sent WITH the heart of God (John 3:16) and gives definitive declaration of God in human form, incarnate, once for ever, bringing the life forever to those who need it, and heed it. That can be registered in the head, but it is found in the heart (Romans 10:9).
this rigour of holiness (not the rigor mortis
of the dead), this dazzling splendour of personality,
this fulfilment of human longings, this source of
human existence, since He created (Colossians 1, John 1:3), then and now, this
other way, this better way, this eternal way (John 14:6), this way of holiness
(Isaiah 35), which is Christ, with the path of Ahaz,
of the pre-deluge denizens of sin-land, and the people, the civilisation,
the world of today!
THE PRACTICE OF PERFECTION : HIS!
Now let us turn to blessedly practical things for the present. If Ahaz was offered ANYTHING, make it high heavenward, low to the depths, was the offer (Isaiah ), in an open check-book situation of the utmost appeal: the offer, though declined, was valid. It is interesting; it is exciting; it is inviting; it has a spectacular effect on the imagination. ANYTHING! What then does one WANT ? Is it life forever with God who made it, and has sent the Redeemer as well ? Of course. Is it holy living to go with it, to look like it, feel like it, act like it, commune like it, so knowing God as His special friend ? Of course. Is it understanding of the Lord (Jeremiah -24), that magnificent offer - what less:
Thus says the Lord:
“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,
Let not the mighty man glory in his might,
Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;
But let him who glories glory in this,
That he understands and knows Me,
That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth.
For in these I delight,” says the Lord.
“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “that I will punish all who are circumcised with the uncircumcised - Egypt, Judah, Edom, the people of Ammon, Moab, and all who are in the farthest corners, who dwell in the wilderness. For all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of
are uncircumcised in the heart.” Israel
Yet you may say: Why give us the negative with the positive ? Perhaps you add: Is it a case of some sort of polarity ? NO! It is not. The negative is given with the positive because IT IS THERE, as Hilary said of the reason for climbing.
In this life, there is option for evil; there is the foul as well as the bracing for the soul. It is seen in that splendidly evangelical book of the prophet Isaiah at the very end (Isaiah 66:22-24), it is seen in the verses following the splendour of love in the radiance of John 3:16, right at the end of that chapter; and condemnation for listless unbelief is just as clear (John 3:19 cf. The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4), and in the most intimate relationship from the first, yes from the flood and even from Eden, as is the exhilaration of faith in the truth, the Lord, the Creator, who from the outset of sin, pronounced salvation.
Indeed, THAT is one of the ways the Bible shows it validity. NOT at all did God allow a world in which sin had its own ways, without a remedy. With the sin, came the declaration of remedy. With sin came both murder and pardon (Genesis 4:4 and its opposite, 5-8) in terms of sacrifice, and in terms of the coming Messiah (Genesis 3:15 cf. BAB 17, pp. 101ff.)
What contravened the justice of the inventor of all things and their due relationships, of Him who having all and being without war and internal tension, being unmade and in fact increate, was not suffered to strut intemperate into the world, as if it owned it (cf. Repent or Perish Chs. 2, 7, BAB 6-7). On the contrary, at once God announced both the penalty and the superior power of salvation which, though not forced to the desolation of personality as such, into any, was to be available for all; and the express ground of condemnation as in John 3:19 is simply this, that in the PRESENCE of light, men PREFER darkness (cf. The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 3, SMR Appendix B). NO other religion bears such a testimony, logically necessary and an antidote to error (cf. That Magnificent Rock Chs. 2 - 3, SMR Chs. 1, 10).
The flood came and went, and Noah and his crew continued. The fall of Jerusalem, for that matter, came and went; and it was rebuilt (Ezra and Nehemiah) - starting on time, as predicted by Jeremiah (25), in words researched and applied by Daniel (9:1ff., 10), and then it was doomed as also predicted by Daniel (9:27, 12), along with the treatment to be accorded to the Messiah and the date of His death, some 6 centuries later (Daniel 9 cf. SMR pp. 886ff., 1080ff.).
History surges and
resurges, not by patterns, not by circles, not even by steps. It acts according
to the word of God, for judgment, for hope, for deliverance and for doom, as
the case requires. But the offer is ALWAYS there and the intention is ALWAYS for
the good of man without his incineration in mere puppetries of compulsion (I
Timothy 2, Ezekiel 33, Isaiah 55). It moves to greater
and greater liberty of man through increasing knowledge (as forecast by Daniel
in 12:4) and greater and greater reaches of depravity such as this enables (as
in Matthew 24:12ff. with II Timothy 3:1-7), people 'always learning but
never attaining to the knowledge of the truth', as exemplified and exhibited in *5
Now is now. It is YOUR time. That is not some other time; it is now. It was so for Noah, for Jerusalem and its citizenry, in that case so poignantly expressed by Christ - Matthew 23;37, Luke 19:14ff.)*6. It is so now. You, you are a citizen of this world, but are you a citizen of what God has after this one is destroyed ?
Above, reference was made to eternity. Certainly to an eternal friendship with the eternal God go all His people. In the meantime, there are lessons to be learnt, for eternity passes the mere confines of time, and all must be complete! (Cf. Ephesians 3:9-10).
The millenium*7 is to come in which God will not merely be
indicated, demonstrated, but manifested, vindicated and seen in His
righteousness without the alloys of misused liberty, asserted its vengeance in
awful power. Then comes the other side of the verification and vindication, the
exhibition that EVEN IN THIS, the wicked are not sated (Isaiah 26:10,
Revelation 20), their eternal lust to be first, to take-over, to be
plenipotentiaries in the earth they neither made nor could make, understand nor
could understand, since they throw away the key to knowledge as surely and
clearly as did their cousins, the Sadducees of Israel:
And He said,
“Woe to you also, lawyers! For you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.
"In fact, you bear witness that you approve the deeds of your fathers; for they indeed killed them, and you build their tombs. Therefore the wisdom of God also said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute,’ that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple.
"Yes, I say to you, it shall be required of this generation. Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered.”
And as He said these things to them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to assail Him vehemently, and to cross-examine Him about many things, lying in wait for Him, and seeking to catch Him in something He might say, that they might accuse Him.
One notices their folly, ignoring knowledge in the very act of asserting it: quite modern, though now the triumphant folly is to remove the possibility of truth theoretically (and of course fallaciously) and then to announce what the truth is! (cf. SMR Ch. 3). So it goes, it even develops, for as the word of God says, evil men will grow worse and worse. There is more scope for the dope, and it is assiduously used, as was predicted also*8 ,so that we now see fulfilments of these prophecies by those who abhor them. This is merely one more of the divine ironies of Him who laughs at their pretence, pretensions and pride of flesh (cf. Psalm 2, which is explicit on the topic!).
The examination of the pit is however not our current topic. It is the outline of the realities of the day of Ahaz and of our own, and the consideration of what is to be learned of the type exhibited in Ahaz, taken up so inveterately and unvirtuously today, in contrast to the other way. It is the latter which now commands our attention.
Thus if Ahaz was offered such a blank cheque as we noted, it could ONLY come by FAITH. You see that quite explicitly Isaiah 7:9:
will not believe,
Surely you will not be established."
We have already considered the word play in this, but now note the solemn reality of it. JUST as Jesus the Christ indicated that by faith the size of a mustard seed, mountains could be moved (Mark 11:23-24), so without it, you CANNOT even so much as PLEASE God (Hebrews 11:6). FAITH is the connecting link of the sinful soul to the satisfying Saviour, who meets the call of justice, gives the pledge of mercy and makes the bond of filial translocation, so that one is IN the kingdom of heaven (Colossians 1:12-13).
One can see it, enter it in the faith which regeneration brings (Titus 3:5-7), and a life that continues unalterable in this, that it is linked to the divine (John 10:27-28), and imperishable in this, that it is known from before all time by God, and granted under licence of wisdom and surety of His word (Ephesians 1:4,11, Romans 8:28ff., I Peter 1:3-5).
Now we come to our major present point. IN THIS LIFE NOW, on earth, viewed in its new plantation of trees placed by the Lord (Matthew , Isaiah 61:3), there is scope for action. There is room for courage and incitation indeed, to its use. Faith must use it. Courage must use faith. It is one integral whole. Having stood, STAND, declaims the apostle (Ephesians -14). Take up the whole armour of God, truth, faith, salvation, the gospel preparation, the word of God as a sword to be USED in integrity, and PRAY ALWAYS. Never faint. Never flourish. Work and trust. The triumph belongs to God. There is no room for triumphalism, except for Him, but there is room to triumph.
The battles have to be won,
personal and for the church. Life and death on this earth is relatively
incidental (but not entirely so, for "precious in the sight of the Lord is the
death of His saints",
Psalm 116:15). Passing to death as with Stephen (Acts 7) is glorious. The
author well remembers the funeral of his father, in which sorrow seems
irrelevant, so assured was that passage to the other side, where all the
trumpets sounded, as Bunyan put it. It can involve grief for a season, and
great was my grief at my mother's passing, where her wonderful qualities of
courage and vitality seemed to depart from an earth in much need of the same;
but she too, one is assured, returned to her rest, and her works follow her.
Look at what was offered to King Ahaz in Isaiah 7:11 and compare it with what is offered to Christians in John 16:23-24,33, 14:12,14,21-24, James 1, II Peter 1:2-5. In John, the materials arevarying between apostle with special responsibilities and ordinary Christian, but with the latter enough to make it clear that Ephesians 1:19's statement of the power for the believers, like John 14:12 is not limited, nor is the cover of John 17:6-22. There is a body, the Church, but if you have to act alone, His mercy, grace and power are sufficient.
The power never fails. It is less important than the purity, for Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. It is far more important to be right in the sight of God, because inspired and directed by Him, and to do little, than to be wrong, and do it with panache!
What Ahaz lacked, man now need not. What Ahaz turned down, is still turned up to the face of the Christian, and to Gospel the offers to the non-Christian, by the word of God, the Bible. God is neither mocked nor changed.
The issues do not depart, nor does the power, the protection until our work is done, and the supervision (Psalm 11, 1391). This is ONE tracking which is delightful, unlike that to come when sinning man seeks to manipulate once again, as so often in the past, but this time with a zeal and cunning at its consummation (Revelation 13), the children of men. Those of them who are also the children of God have nothing to fear, in life or death, the love and light of God is there (Romans 8:29ff., Revelation 12:11), and if one has to go, so be it.
To whom is one going but to the beginning! (Revelation 1:8), in and with whom there is no end. HIS work is finished, and as such it covers the believer for ever (I John 3:9, Romans 5:1-11, I Thessalonians 5:9-10, Job 19:23-27, Hebrews 9:12-15, 6:17ff., Ephesians 1:11).
That! it is enough. It is now that is the time to NON-FOLLOW Ahaz, and to follow the Lord. That, it is what HIS sheep in fact do (John -28).
It is necessary to see
things as they are. When this is done, it is 100% mercy, which holding hands
with truth, is purer than the heavens, cleaner than the sea, thrice distilled,
ever new, ever free.
See That Magnificent Rock
With Heart and Soul, Mind and Strength Ch. 10 (incl. ref. to early Greek thought), Galloping Events
Matthew has the Creator's own tenderness, even His whose creation included the parcel, little child.
, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ” Jerusalem
Luke 19:41ff. rends the very heart.
Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying,
- “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
Repent or Perish
The Biblical Workman (TBW)
. 165-172; SMR pp. 506ff.; TMR 4, Answers to Questions 7, End-note 1, That Magnificent Rock, Allegory 7; Biblical Blessings Ch. 3, pp. 43, 45ff.; Light of Dawn Ch. 3; Little Things 1; Galloping Events Ch. 8 esp. *1, SMR pp. 506ff., TBW 1, p. 20ff.; SMR Appendix A;
Scoop of the Universe 45, Joyful Jottings 17,18; Benevolent Brightness or Brothy Bane 70, 71.